The Florida Marlins fell to the Washington Nationals for a second consecutive night, putting the Fish 6 games behind the Phillies (N.L. East leader) and 4.5 games behind the Giants (Wild Card leader). Two factors played into this second-straight loss: 1) The Nationals aren't the same team and 2) The Marlins could not capitalize in key situations.
The Nationals have now won 8 of their last 12 games and are a changed team after the trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates. It was evident that the addition of Nyger Morgan was a plus for the team. Just last night, Morgan had two stolen bases, scored twice and was 1-for-2 at the plate. The Nats in general have three players batting over .300 - Nyger Morgan, Carlos Guzman and Josh Willingham - and a few others close to that mark - Ryan Zimmerman (.294) and Adam Dunn (.280).
This Nationals team is definitely not the one depicted in the standings, 25.5 games behind the Phillies, and should be taken more seriously by N.L. contenders looking for a playoff spot. It's not to say that the Nats will contend this year, that's a stretch, but they may play spoilers down the stretch if they keep up this level of play.
As for the Marlins, they had plenty of opportunities to come back last night, but they could not capitalize with men in scoring position. Eight players were left on base and many times there were two to three men aboard with less than two outs. The chances were there, but the clutch hits were not.
Capitalizing on base runners is a factor that separates good teams from great teams. The Marlins were clutch early in the season against the Nationals, making three come back wins and sweeping them on their own turf. Now, they must return to that mindset of "it's not about how many times you get a hit, but when you get a hit." There's still 50+ games left to play and the Marlins are still in the hunt for a playoff spot.